The 2014 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees have been announced. They are: Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Deep Purple, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, KISS, LL Cool J, The Meters, Nirvana, N.W.A., The Replacements, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens, Link Wray, Yes, and the Zombies.
On the fan ballot, you can only vote for five. Mine would be Deep Purple, which should have been in a long, long time ago; KISS (can’t stand their music, but the should have been in the hall a decade ago; you can’t tell the story of rock and roll without them); Yes, one of the truly great progressive rock bands and hugely influential; Nirvana, which launched an entire new sub-genre of rock; and Hall and Oates. I actually like Peter Gabriel a hell of a lot more than Hall and Oates, but he’s already in as a member of Genesis and while I think he should go in as a solo act as well, I think Hall and Oates has been overlooked for too long. It’s the biggest selling duo in music history. It’s a lot like KISS to me, even if you don’t really like their music you have to recognize their place in music history.
Having said that, I think some of the others deserve to be in there as well, including Chic, N.W.A., LL Cool J, Link Wray and the Meters. I’m not one of those people who says, “But it’s the rock and roll hall of fame, not the pop music or rap music hall of fame! Why are they putting all those non-rockers in there?” Because it’s really the pop music hall of fame and has been from the start. The decision to include rap artists, for instance, was made years ago and if you’re going to honor rap artists, N.W.A. and LL Cool J absolutely deserve to be there.
Cat Stevens probably deserves to be there on the merits as well, but I simply cannot bring myself to support him in anything now that he’s a Muslim fascist who thinks people should be killed for writing something he doesn’t like. His public support of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, and his constant lies since than in claiming that he didn’t, make him pretty much dead to me. Other than him, there’s no one on this list that I’d object to getting in.
Assuming some of these bands get in, there will likely be controversy over who shows up (Axl Rose to the white courtesy phone). Ritchie Blackmore, the legendary guitarist for Deep Purple, has already said he will not show up if inducted. Blackmore is a bit eccentric, to say the least. But I think it would be a shame if he doesn’t. The same with Jon Anderson of Yes, though I think he will show up if inducted. Hell, Yes alone could fill half the arena with members and former members, and I hope that all of the members from different times who played the same instrument during the band’s heyday (Steve Howe and Trevor Rabin on guitar, Bill Bruford and Alan White on drums, Rick Wakeman and Tony Kaye on keyboards) show up to be honored. They can leave Geoff Downes and Jon Davison at home. The same might be true of KISS. I would hope that they’d include Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, original members of the band, in the ceremony.
One thing I’d like to see the hall of fame do more of is inducting session musicians and side players. They’ve done that with some of the older guys from the 50s and 60s, but few from the last 25 or 30 years. I mean, Tony Levin should be in the hall. He’s played on 500 albums, everything from Alice Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare to Peter Gabriel’s solo albums (all of them, I think, plus the tours) and a bunch of King Crimson albums. His name may not be on the front of the CD, but his influence is extraordinary.
And for crying out loud, Vinnie Colaiuta, in my opinion the world’s best drummer, should be in there (as should a bunch of other great sidemen/session drummers like Steve Gadd and Dave Weckl). His work with Frank Zappa and Sting alone should get him in. No one handles odd time signatures as flawlessly and effortlessly as Vinnie. And few drummers have ever been able to combine extraordinary technical chops with the ability to lock into a groove and swing like he can. Ask any drummer who pays attention to such things and they will rave about Vinnie the way I’m doing right now. He is a force of nature and deserves to be more widely recognized.